India sees more women in leadership roles but boardroom diversity progressing at a snail's pace

India sees more women in leadership roles but boardroom diversity progressing at a snail's pace

The seventh edition of Deloitte Global's Women in the boardroom report revealed that women hold 17.1 percent of the board seats in India.


This number increased by 9.4 percent from the 2014 edition − the year when the Companies Act, 2013 mandated having one woman member on every board. Moreover, only 3.6 percent of the board chairs are women, down by 0.9 percent since 2018.


Globally, 19.7 percent of the board seats are held by women, an increase of 2.8 percent since 2018 compared with 1.9 percent over 2016−2018. At this pace, the world could expect to reach near-parity only in 2045. Austria, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain, the UK, and the US saw the most notable increases.


Although India saw a decline in board chairs held by women in 2021, it witnessed an increase in the number of women taking up CEO roles − 4.7 percent female CEOs against 3.4 percent reported in 2018.


Deloitte Global's research revealed a positive correlation between appointing a female CEO and the diversity on the board. Globally, companies with women CEOs have significantly more women on their boards than those run by men − 33.5 percent vs. 19.4 percent, respectively. The statistics are similar for companies with female chairs (30.8 percent women on boards vs. 19.4 percent, respectively). The inverse is true as well − gender-diverse boards are more likely to appoint a female CEO and board chair.


"While the Indian regulators have set up a holistic framework to encourage the representation of women in key positions at corporates, the numbers suggest a significant gap between the ideated measures and ground realities. With the continuing disruption and the current pace of change, the case for diverse boards that work with a unified purpose is becoming stronger than it ever was. It is time that gender diversity and gender parity get more focused attention from Indian corporations", says Atul Dhawan, Chairperson, Deloitte India.


The report provides a summary of the "story on the ground" for each country.


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